By Dave Wischnowsky –

(CBS) The Bears look like toast. The Illini football team hasn’t won a Big Ten game in 16 straight tries. The Cubs and White Sox combined to lose 195 games, and it felt like 300.

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Oh, and the Cardinals and Red Sox are in the World Series.

Yes, right now, it’s a pretty rough time to be a sports fan in the Land of Lincoln. But all is not lost. In fact, even as the temperature in Chicago starts to bottom out, there are some pick-me-ups on the local sports scene that are still warming my heart this week. And here they are:

Fire, Ice and the Chicago Wolves 

Last Friday night, I went to my first-ever Chicago Wolves game at Allstate Arena. I was impressed with the family atmosphere, the intimacy of the crowd and the quality of competition as the Wolves fell behind the Rockford IceHogs 3-0 and rallied back for a 3-3 tie late in third period, only to see Rockford re-take the lead a short time later and eventually add an empty-netter for a 5-3 win.

But before all that happened, I was blown away by the Wolves’ introductions. Honestly, you simply haven’t seen all there is to see in the world of Chicago sports until you’ve witnessed the Wolves’ wild player intros that feature enormous fireballs (over ice) and loud fireworks (beneath a wooden roof) all played to the tune of Motley Crue’s “Kickstart My Heart.”

If you can’t get (or afford) Blackhawks tickets, but are still hungering for hockey – and, you know, fireballs – the Wolves next host the Grand Rapids Griffins at 7 p.m. on Saturday for Breast Cancer Awareness Night and the Charlotte Checkers at 3 p.m. on Sunday for Peanut Allergy Awareness Day.

Derrick Rose’s knee

It’s been Chicago’s most scrutinized joint since Kerry Wood’s elbow, and good – check that, great – news is that D-Rose’s rebuilt left knee has moved well beyond towel drills.

And is back to helping its owner dominate on the court.

Last night in a preseason game against the Milwaukee Bucks, Rose put up 24 points, giving him 78 in his last 80 minutes, 54 seconds. That kind of scoring clip would make Michael Jordan proud.

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Next up for Rose is winning a title like MJ, too. Could happen sooner rather than later if Derrick keeps playing the way he has so far.

Dusty Baker’s aspirations

Speaking of Kerry Wood’s elbow …

No, we’re focusing on positives today. And I’m positive that nothing gave me a bigger chuckle on Monday than reading about Dusty Baker’s interest in the Detroit Tigers’ managerial job and’s comment about how, while the Tigers are yet to reciprocate that interest, “after four seasons as Cubs skipper and six helming the Reds, fans worried that Chicago baseball wouldn’t be the same without seeing Baker on a bench might not have to worry much longer.”

It’s a good thing. Because that was really keeping me up at night.

Wisconsin jokes

Yes, the Badgers tore up the Fighting Illini at Memorial Stadium this past Saturday night. And come Nov. 4, the Packers just might do the same to the banged-up Bears during their Monday Night Football clash.

But Wisconsin is still Wisconsin. And even when its teams win, that doesn’t make the T-shirt that I saw in Champaign over the weekend any less funny.


And, really, if that doesn’t warm your heart, I don’t know what will.

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Dave Wischnowsky

If nothing else, Dave Wischnowsky is an Illinois boy. Raised in Bourbonnais, educated at the University of Illinois and bred on sports in the Land of Lincoln, he now resides on Chicago’s North Side, just blocks from Wrigley Field. Formerly a reporter and blogger for the Chicago Tribune, Dave currently writes a syndicated column, The Wisch List, which you can check out via his blog at Follow him on Twitter @wischlist and read more of his CBS Chicago blog entries here.